On September 06, 2006, some very interesting news for glaucoma patients was released. The business technology magazine Red Herring broke the news of a novel drug approval. The drug Ocufors is made from the ancient Ayurvedic herb Makandi. This is the first pharmaceutical product ever approved in India that is completely plant derived, according to Red Herring.
Ocufors has been found to be 30 percent more effective than existing and popular glaucoma drugs. The drug has undergone all the mandatory studies and clinical research at six different locations in India.
On August 23, 2006, I wrote an article about this herb (Coleus forskohlii) and I reviewed the research as well as the botanical information.
Red Herring's statement that Ocufors "is the first pharmaceutical product derived from a plant to be approved in India, it is also the first such eye care product worldwide" sounds like a bit of an exaggeration. It may be significant in signaling reduced bias on the part of India's drug approval agencies toward Ayurveda. However, plant-based pharmaceuticals are nothing new.
However, the news is still very good. A lot of us have been waiting a long time for a Forskolin-based eye drop that was well-tested in humans. I've been waiting ever since I found out I had glaucoma! So whether this is really the first ever pharmaceutical product derived from a plant to be approved or not doesn't matter as much as the fact that Ocufors has been approved.
Ocufors is made under a patented process. The US patent is held by Sami Labs of Bangalore, India. Sabina , a US-based company, owns Sami Labs. Hopefully, that means we will see a similar product in the US sooner rather than later.
The news announcement leads me to believe that Sami Labs did not alter the chemical structure of the active compounds in the herb when they created Ocufors. If so, then congratulations to them. It doesn't surprise me that an Indian pharmaceutical company would be the first in the world to do this, with that country's rich background in Ayurveda.
I originallly wrote this post on Wednesday, September 06, 2006 11:19 PM. Unfortunately, Ocufors is still not available in the USA.